A couple of years ago Romain Grosjean was persona non grata in Formula 1 – famously branded the ‘First Lap Nutcase’ by Mark Webber – but since then the Frenchman has turned his career around, establishing himself as a force in Formula 1, and now Lotus owner Gerard Lopez believes the same can be done to reverse Pastor Maldonado’s plummeting shares.
Lopez explained to PA ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, “It’s a case of working with him to make sure that he is comfortable. He had an easy weekend [in Spain] until Qualifying, and he would easily have been in Q3.”
Maldonado slammed the barriers in Barcelona on his out lap during Q2, compromising his grid position and consequently his race.
“When I say ‘easy’, he pushed but didn’t really have to push until he probably decided he had to push more in Qualifying when it probably wasn’t required,” reflected Lopez.
Controversy has haunted Maldonado at Monaco since his junior years. In 2005 while competing in the Renault World Series, he ignored yellow flags before slamming into and severely injuring a marshal.
Organisers of the Monaco grand prix banned Maldonado from the street circuit for life, however his wealthy father intervened, promising to pay for the marshal’s recovery and rehabilitation from a broken back, which ultimately saved Maldonado’s motor racing career.
His three visits to the principality, as a Formula 1 driver with Williams, have also grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In 2011 Maldonado tangled with Lewis Hamilton, and ended up crashing into the barriers at Sainte Devote. However the incident was deemed to be Hamilton’s fault and the Englishman penalised accordingly.
During FP3 for the 2012 race Maldonado was given a ten-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Sergio Pérez. Starting from the back of the grid he was involved in a first corner accident which ended his race on the spot.
After surviving contact early on in the 2013 edition of the race, Maldonado and Chilton touched near Tabac sending Maldonado into the barriers, making it three DNFs by contact for the Venezuelan in three years.
Lopez explains, “He’s a driver who needs to understand that in certain circumstances, with his speed, then 95, 96, [or] 97 per cent should get him to where he wants to be, and then once in Q3 give it 100, 105. We’ve lived partially the same thing with Romain, and people wrote him off, but now, as I say, we’ve people knocking on our door to see if he can be in their team.”
“We will take a long-term view on things, so we’re not particularly worried. We’ll get the best out of Pastor. We think we can do the same with him, as we did with Romain, to ensure that he is at his best every race weekend, and consistently throughout the weekend. I have a lot of faith in him,” concluded Lopez. (GP247)
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